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Ontario introduces new impaired driving laws ahead of marijuana legalization

  • October 17, 2017
  • by Will Davidson LLP
  • car accident, car accident lawyer, drug impaired driving, impaired driving, marijuana legalization, Ontario personal injury lawyer, personal injury, Personal Injury Lawyer, Toronto personal injury lawyer, Will Davidson LLP,

The Province of Ontario is preparing for the legalization of recreational marijuana in July 2018. In early September, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government announced plans to restrict province-wide marijuana sales to 150 LCBO-style dispensaries, prompting exhaustive debate. Then, on September 18, Queen’s Park unveiled “even tougher” impaired driving laws that have generally been applauded by personal injury lawyers.

“There is no excuse for impaired driving – whether it is due to drugs or alcohol,” said Premier Wynne in a release. “It is unacceptable, dangerous and the consequences can be tragic and life changing. Our zero tolerance policies for the highest-risk drivers are about keeping Ontario’s roads safe and protecting people across the province.”

“Zero tolerance” refers to the province’s new policy for young drivers aged 21 or under; novice drivers with G1, G2, M1, or M2 licenses; and commercial drivers. Each of these groups will face a minimum three-day suspension and fines from $250 to $450 if they have any drugs or alcohol in their system.

Today, young and novice drivers face a 24-hour suspension for the same offence, and no monetary penalty. Commercial drivers do not face suspension or monetary fines of any kind provided they are under the legal limit.

Other drivers can also face a $250 to $450 fine for failing a roadside test, and those who refuse the test altogether could be fined $550. Today drivers face a $198 fine in both scenarios.

“We know that model of good legislation, education and enforcement works,” Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada CEO Andrew Murie told the Globe and Mail in support of the legislation. “This is a big first step. It’s not going to the last step.”

Significant challenges remain intact ahead of next summer’s legalization. Personal injury lawyers, law enforcement officials, and opposition politicians have voiced a variety of concerns, from police readiness to worries about the efficacy of roadside testing devices.

On September 12, the Ontario Provincial Police were joined in Ottawa by officials from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Saskatoon Police Service to testify to the House of Commons that there is “zero chance” Canadian police will be ready to enforce legalized marijuana laws by next year, per the Toronto Star.

Still, Ontario is doing everything it can to prepare.

“Driving while impaired is not acceptable and will not be tolerated,” said Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca last month. “We believe that these measures are an important step towards ensuring that Ontario’s roads remain safe after July 1st, 2018.”

If you have been injured in an accident involving an impaired driver, contact the personal injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today to find out how our experienced and compassionate team can help.

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